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The Irish Rose

Ryan Name History

Ryan Coat of Arms


There are several possible origins for the Irish surname Ryan. In certain cases it can be a simplified form of Mulryan. In other cases the surname may be derived from the Irish Gaelic Ó Riagháin (modern Irish: Ó Riain), meaning "descendant of Rían" or Ó Maoilriain, "descendant of Maoilriaghain," or Ó Ruaidhín, "descendant of the little red one." The old Gaelic personal name Rían is of uncertain origin. It may be derived from the Gaelic , meaning "king."

The counties in Ireland most associated with Ryans are Carlow, Tipperary, and Limerick, although a distinct Rian line is believed to derive from Rian, the mid-10th century King of the territory Ui Cinsealaigh in South Leinster.

Ryan is among the top 10 leading names in Ireland, and it is just as popular for a first name as it is a last name.

Variant spellings of the Irish surname Ryan include O'Ryan, Mulrian, Mulryan, O'Mulrian, among others. The Ryan coat of arms motto is, "I Would Rather Die Than Be Disgraced."

How to find out more about the Ryan family crest

We are proud to offer two items that may shed more light on the Ryan family coat of arms and history in Ireland. Our Framed Irish Family Name History (#1760) and Framed Irish Coat of Arms & Family History (#1700) provide more details about the Ryan family in Ireland. These beautiful framed documents will be treasured in the Ryan family for years to come.

Find other Ryan coat of arms products on the Irish Coat of Arms page.

Where to find Ryan pubs in Ireland

There are quite a few pubs in Ireland that bear the Ryan name:

If you can't visit one of these fine Ryan establishments, our personalized pub gifts are the next best thing!

Notable people named Ryan

  • Abram Joseph Ryan, Catholic Priest, poet.
  • Andrew Ryan (rugby player), Australian rugby league player
  • B.J. Ryan, baseball player
  • Barry Ryan (born 1948), English pop singer
  • Barry Ryan (born 1949), U.S. Catholic priest
  • Bernard Ryan, Jr., American author
  • Bianca Ryan, American singer and America's Got Talent winner
  • Bobby Ryan, American hockey player
  • Chris Ryan (rugby league), Australian rugby league footballer
  • Christopher Ryan, British actor
  • Debby Ryan, American actress
  • Donnell Ryan, Federal Court of Australia judge
  • Edward Ryan, English lawyer and judge
  • Francis T. Ryan, American Medal of Honor recipient
  • Fred Ryan (born 1955), CEO of, former aide to Ronald Reagan
  • Frederick Ryan (1876-–1913), Irish playwright and socialist
  • George H. Ryan, Former Illinois governor
  • Gerry Ryan, Irish radio presenter
  • Gig Ryan, Australian Poet
  • Harold M. Ryan (born 1911), U.S. Representative from Michigan
  • Irene Ryan (1902-–1973), actress
  • Jeri Ryan, U.S. actress
  • Jimmy Ryan, 19th century baseball player
  • Kevin Ryan, New Zealand long-distance runner
  • Lacy Ryan (c. 1694-1760), English actor
  • Leo Ryan, Former Congressman from San Francisco, killed at Jonestown
  • Lee Ryan English singer and former member of the boyband blue
  • Liza Ryan (born 1965), an American photographer
  • Lucille Frances Ryan, a.k.a. Lucy Lawless
  • Mark F. Ryan, Dr., Irish author and nationalist
  • Meg Ryan (born 1961), U.S. actress
  • Michelle Ryan (born 1984), British actress of Irish ancestry
  • Neal Ryan (born 1981), musician and guitar builder
  • Nolan Ryan (born 1947), baseball player
  • Patrick John Ryan, archbishop
  • Patrick Ryan, author and journalist
  • Paul Ryan (1948-–1992), British singer and songwriter
  • Paul Ryan (born 1970), U.S. Representative from Wisconsin, Chairman of Budget Committee
  • Perry T. Ryan, American author
  • Prestin Ryan, Canadian ice hockey player
  • Rachel Ryan famous nurse
  • Richie Ryan, Irish politician
  • Robert Ryan (1909-–1973), actor
  • Ronald Ryan (Last person to be legally executed in Australia.)
  • Roz Ryan, actress
  • Thomas Ryan (1870–-1943), Australian politician
  • T. Claude Ryan (1898-–1982), an American aviator and aeronautic engineer
  • T. J. Ryan (1876-–1921), Australian politician —Premier of Queensland — also, later, Federal Member for West Sydney
  • Thomas Jay Ryan, actor
  • Walter D'Arcy Ryan, lighting engineer
  • William Patrick Ryan (1867–-1942), Irish author and journalist

Fictional characters

  • April Ryan, appearing in the computer adventure games The Longest Journey and Dreamfall
  • Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture and a major character in the 2007 video game Bioshock
  • Archie Ryan, the pseudonym of Lincoln Burrows, a fictional character from the television show Prison Break
  • Barbara Ryan, character in the soap opera As the World Turns
  • Caitlin Ryan, a character in the Degrassi franchise
  • Jack Ryan, character in several Tom Clancy novels
  • Jack Ryan, a separate character and the primary protagonist of the 2007 video game Bioshock
  • Jake Ryan, character in Sixteen Candles/Hannah Montana, TV character portrayed by Cody Linley
  • Nory Ryan, main character in book Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • Richie Ryan, fictional character in Highlander: The Series;
  • James Francis Ryan, character in the 1998 American war film Saving Private Ryan

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